French products, a new attraction in Germany

Until spring, it was French consumers who regularly shopped in Germany. From now on, on the contrary, it is a trend that is reversing.

Among the various ways of studying economic relations between France and Germany, there is one that consists of finding an open terrace near an old customs post in a border town, ordering a coffee and watching the coming and going. And the wise observer, who would have sat down last spring, then this fall, would have discovered two realities. Until spring, and for years, it was French consumers who regularly went shopping in Germany. Prices are cheaper there. And now, on the contrary, it is German consumers who come to fill their trunks and gas tanks on this side of the Rhine.

So are we going to win the Nobel Prize in Economics with this kind of observation? I am not sure. But this reversal of flow, at the local level, is exceptional enough for us to pay attention to it and, why not, to draw some useful reflections from it. It is not a question here of detailing the causes of this new situation. This is obviously a result of a combination of factors, including falling German productivity due to rising energy costs, higher inflation in Germany than in France (10.4% in October 2022, 10.4% in over the same period a year earlier, compared to 6.2% in France), etc. A context that, according to economists, will be sustainable.

A new attractiveness of French products in Germany

In recent months, therefore, the prices of consumer products in Germany have tended to approach those of France and even, more and more frequently, to exceed them. As products from France become more attractive, what window of opportunity does this open up for French companies? Difficult to predict, but there is, in any case, a kind of influx of air, or at least a favorable state of the economy, which has not occurred for many years. A perfect opportunity for brands to bet on an e-commerce export strategy dedicated to this territory. Especially as German e-commerce is the second largest market in Europe with 99 billion euros in turnover (BEVH) in 2021 and 47 million online shoppers. And we’re also witnessing a heightened enthusiasm for Germany from French electronics retailers since the summer.

An export strategy where the product precedes the brand

To take advantage of the opportunity to develop in the German market taking into account the economic context and therefore limiting investments, it seems appropriate to adopt an evolutionary and very simple e-commerce strategy: products first, and the rest will follow…

Market entry by product consists of first being present in the main German markets. In fact, always looking for good deals, the vast majority of Germans shop on these marketplaces instead of going through e-commerce sites. This presence will make it possible to assess the appeal of its products to consumers, but also to validate the smooth functioning of its supply chain to guarantee deliveries and manage returns, the rate of which is much higher than in France. In the same logic, it is also possible to have your products referenced in physical stores in Germany, through marketplaces such as Ankorstore, with controlled costs.

This presence through the products constitutes a first phase of learning and experimentation that allows avoiding many pitfalls when it comes to exporting. Once this step has been validated, it is then possible to reinforce your presence through a dedicated e-commerce site.

A Made in Germany eCommerce site for products made in France

An e-commerce site for the German market must meet the expectations and practices of local consumers. It must be perfectly translated. If the product sheets are important, it’s the conversion path that must be impeccable, right down to the T&Cs. This page is one of the most consulted in the German versions, so it should not be neglected.

Payment is also a key point for German consumers who mostly use bank transfers. It is not necessary, therefore, to limit yourself to a single medium, but rather to diversify the offers. It’s also a good idea to provide a local German number so site visitors can easily get in touch. It will then be time to reference your products at public crossroads such as Google Shopping, comparators, etc. Then adopt a content and brand recognition rationale. And always make more sales, which our astute observer will not see from the café terrace…

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